Catholicism 101 Writer
Gerard DeAngelis is a double major in Philosophy and Business Management & Leadership. His interests include anything tangentially related to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, the Common Doctor, the Dumb Ox of Aquino! He also loves Mock Trial, playing classic rock on the guitar, and long walks on the beach while sipping chamomile tea. After college he plans to do nothing with his business degree but rather purchase a large toga and use his philosophical prowess to become a sophist, selling his knowledge for big money.
Every year the Christmas season provokes many critiques about the secularized nature of one of Christianity’s most important feasts. Among many insights provided by the Common Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, one critique—although admittedly not the most important—he might bring to the table is this: Isn’t it wrong to be lying to our kids about Santa Claus?
It seems the greatest joy of Christianity is that Someone always loves us no matter how sinful we are, and will give us without fail a “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Lk. 6:38) not because of our “own doing,” but “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). Yet, on the other hand, we know that if we claim to have a relationship with this Great Lover and receive the superabundance of His life, we must “keep the commandments (Mt. 19:17) and work towards Him “with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
Today, when many people think of “the law,” they see it as, at best, a necessary evil to maintain order—or at worst, as a harmful imposition. This contrasts directly, however, with the Biblical notion of a law that is to be loved: “I love thy law / Seven times a day I praise thee / for thy righteous ordinances…The law of thy mouth is better to me / than thousands of gold and silver pieces…I delight in thy law” (Ps 119:163-164, 72, 70).
What exactly is grace? We often claim to be in someone’s “good graces,” or we might sit behind Grace in Calculus. Luckily, in the “Prima Secundae,” or “First Part of the Second Part,” of his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas gives an answer. In Question 110, getting ready to present his treatise on the theological virtues, St. Thomas turns his attention to what grace is—what he calls its “essence.”